News & Events

Barrie Ruth Straus

Very belatedly, I would like to report with sadness the death of former NCS member Professor Barrie Ruth Straus on September 17, 2014. Notice of this has only recently come to my attention. Professor Straus was a member of NCS and attended NCS congresses (she presented at the 2000 Congress in London). Some members will be familiar with her pioneering work on Chaucer. Her essay "The Subversive Discourse of the Wife of Bath: Phallocentric Discourse and the Imprisonment of Criticism appeared in ELH​, ​vol. 55, no. 3 (1988), pp. 527-554, and was reprinted in ​Chaucer​: Contemporary Critical Essays​, edited by Valerie Allen and Ares Axiotis, Palgrave, 1997.​ Another essay, "Reframing the Violence of the Father: Reverse Oedipal Fantasies in Chaucer's Clerk's, Man of Law's, and Prioress's Tales," appeared in Domestic Violence in Medieval Texts, edited by Eve Salisbury, Georgiana Donavin, and Merrall Llewelyn Price, UP of Florida, 2002, pp. 122-138.

Below is the notice of her death by her colleague Suzanne Matheson at the University of Windsor, Canada.
Best wishes

A note from Suzanne Matheson on former colleague Barrie Ruth Straus 

(Originally published on: Tue, 10/07/2014)

Barrie Ruth Straus, who taught Medieval literature and Women’s Studies at the University of Windsor from 1990 to 2006, was known for her pioneering work on Chaucer, feminism and psychoanalysis. She was born in Winnipeg in 1943 and took her BA at the University of Oregon and PhD at the University of Iowa. She taught for many years in the English department at the University of Florida before relocating to Windsor and Detroit. She was involved in building Women’s Studies programs at both institutions, and parlayed her interest in critical theory and gender into important articles on the feminine voice in Middle English literature. Barrie Ruth’s work on the Canterbury Tales and Margery Kempe helped shape feminist analysis of the period and continues to be much cited, discussed and anthologized. She was a rigorous, intelligent critic with the best kind of skepticism: a wariness concerning entrenched ideas and established forms of power, tempered by compassion for the complexities of real people. As my friend she was intensely loyal, kind and generous—a strong, supportive colleague, a mentor, an honorary aunt to my children, a confidante. She bore years of serious ill-health with resolution and optimism, passing away peacefully in hospital on Sept.17th. She had told me with characteristic bravery she was ready.

“Thanne longen folk to goon on pilgrimmages,
And palmeres for to seeken straunge strondes
To ferne halwes, couthe in sundry londes”

C. Suzanne Matheson